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Dyscalculia Symptoms

Dyscalculia Symptoms

A specific learning disability, dyscalculia, involves reduced mathematics comprehension and learning. To know whether one has this disorder or not, it is imperative to understand the symptoms of dyscalculia.
Loveleena Rajeev
Dyscalculia, also known as a math disability, is a lesser known learning disability and refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving comprehending and learning mathematics. The word dyscalculia is derived from the Greek word dys and Latin word calculia which means badly and to count, respectively. Together they mean counting badly. It basically affects the mathematical reasoning as well as arithmetic operation of a person. If the symptoms of this disability are understood well, it can be detected at a young age. This will ensure that the individual suffering from it will be able to handle this limitation by working around it. Dyscalculia is related to dyslexia and developmental dyspraxia, and cases recorded estimate that this disorder may affect about 5% of the population.


The causes of dyscalculia is still a gray area, and there is little concrete understanding about what causes it or how can it be prevented.
  • Problems in math processing are attributed to disturbances or deficiencies in specific regions of the brain, more specifically to lesions found on the supramarginal and angular gyri at the junction between the temporal and parietal lobes.
  • Hereditary or congenital disorders may be a significant cause, but there is no concrete evidence to prove it as yet.
  • Injury to the brain that affects working memory is seen as a major factor in mental addition disability.
  • Although not very scientific in its base, some researchers believe that social conditioning that define gender appropriate thoughts, divergence, objects, and activities all play a part in acquiring this disability.

Symptoms of dyscalculia are wide ranging; however, their diagnosis must be differentiated from those who are 'not interested in studying maths'. Although most of these symptoms go beyond simple arithmetic to mental calculation, in most cases, it is these simple mathematical errors that are the first, subtle symptoms to be exhibited.
  • Comprehension of time and its passage maybe limited.
  • Difficulty in understanding arithmetic signs, such as +, −, ÷, and ×. People often get confused with their operational need.
  • Difficulty in learning and understanding mental arithmetic as well as the basics of multiplication, subtraction, addition, and division tables.
  • A high degree of navigational impairment.
  • The concept of distance and its measurement is difficult to establish.
  • Difficulty in reading analog clocks.
  • Difficulty in performing simple tasks, like daily expense calculation, higher financial planning, and budgeting.
  • A very poor sense of mathematical concepts, rules, formulas, and sequences.
  • May also have trouble grasping the mechanics of a calculator.
  • A common noted symptom is that people with this disorder do fairly well in science and geometry, especially where no formulas or calculations are involved.
  • Difficulty in playing games where a score needs to recorded, like a cards game or even games like soccer or basketball where the scores need to be kept.
  • May find it difficult to count backwards (10, 9, 8, and so on), and/or transpose numbers (12 to 21, 43 to 34, etc.).
  • Errors become more common and pronounced, and simple arithmetic learned may be easily forgotten.
  • Some degree of absentmindedness about any form of mathematical calculation can occur chronically.
Testing for dyscalculia

There isn't any formal diagnostic test specifically for this disorder. However, there is an appropriate dyscalculia screener for teachers by Professor Brian Butterworth. This test is particularly useful because it relies very little on other cognitive skills, such as language, reading, or short-term memory or on a learner's educational background. It makes it possible to evaluate a child's numerical potential independently of their abilities in other areas. A vital feature of the test is the time it takes to answer each question in comparison with the average for the child's age group. Even young kids can answer most of the questions. This has the benefit of making the test usable for all age groups.

Treatment as such is not really available for dyscalculia. Although a disorder, very little can be achieved by the means of therapy or assistance. A better way to cope with this disorder is by honing skills in other academic and/or artistic fields.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.